A Snaggled, Barbarous Place

a snaggled, barbarous place

This snaggled wee post was originally published in January 2023. The book I mention working on – CABRIOLE – is out now along with the rest of the series. I’m currently working away on the connected series of coming-of-age stories with a similar release strategy in mind, for similar reasons…

Snaggled

A snaggled and barbarous place. That’s where I am. No, I’m not ill again. In fact, I’m doing quite well. Well enough to sit at my desk and write every day, anyway. I’m deep in relationship conflict and development in CABRIOLE, the second book in my dark and romantic ballet series, A Dancer’s Journey. And I’m LOVING it.

Release Strategy

These books will be out later this year (2023). I don’t want to rush them. And I also don’t want to put them, even the first one, TENDU, which is actually ready now, up for pre-order before they’re all finished. Because, what if I did become ill? And then there was a terribly long gap between books? Or worse than ill, and then there was no end to the series at all? No, no, no.

They’re going to be released a month apart, so there will be no long waits for readers. No cliffhanger endings either. Each book completes its story. But then there’s more. So much more.

Update: the whole series is out now!

Series on Amazon UK

Series on Amazon worldwide

Series on Goodreads

Page with blurbs and quotes

Dance and Despair: Writing What You Know on Women Writers, Women[‘s] Books.

Losing the Plot

My poor characters. They’re still recovering from a devastating event that happened in the first book, and now they’re struggling with yet more difficult and complicated things. It’s no wonder they like it when I have a day out. This time their problems are of their own making, though, as stated in the quote above. This was not the plot that I originally envisaged for them. They got away from me. But they’ll sort it all out, and they’ll think everything’s fine. And then a mysterious child will walk up some steps into book three, and turmoil will begin again 🙂

Snowdrops

And look what’s happened in the garden. The appearance of the snowdrops always feel so sudden. And so hopeful. Not snaggled in any way. Spring approaches.

snowdrops in a snaggled place

Historical Fiction

Historical Fiction from Ailish Sinclair. Witches, kidnapping, Romans and romance.
  • SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD opens on a snowy winter solstice in 1st century Scotland. The main character is neurodivergent, and has been non-verbal until that first scene of the book.
  • If you like castles, Scotland, history, witches, stone circles and Christmas done medieval-style, you might like THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR. There’s also a love story.
  • FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE was inspired by the kidnapped children of 18th century Aberdeen, and is set in both Scotland and Colonial Pennsylvania.

They’re all available in paperback, kindle and on kindle unlimited.

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

Signed copies from me

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Ailish Sinclair goes into the woods

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2023 Moments: Dancing, Castles, Books…

2023 moments: book nook

I loved visiting the Pink House in Banff with its gorgeous wee book nook.

2023 moments: en pointe in a stone circle

Dancing among ancient stones in my ancient pointe shoes. That was fun.

2023 moments: red maple autumn leaves

Autumn was gentle and beautiful this year.

2023 moments: Bow Fiddle Rock

Visiting Bow Fiddle Rock was scenic and slippery.

Diabolical

Being diabolical: good, and not so good.

2023 moments: Provost Skene's House in Aberdeen

I had an interesting time exploring Provost Skene’s House in Aberdeen.

the dark of the castle

Getting A Dancer’s Journey out there into the world felt like a big moment. I enjoyed writing this Dark of the Castle post.

2023 moments: Fyvie Castle

More recent favourite moments: Christmas at Fyvie Castle and walking round the frozen loch there.

Really, being well for large chunks of the year was the highlight for me. I got out. I got books out. It was good.

A Meme of Book Blurbs

And then, the other day, this meme really made me laugh. I don’t know who to credit with its creation; it’s doing the rounds on Facebook. It looks like it might be from a book; if you know, do tell me.

book blurbs; glossary of terms

So, I’m going to blurb my books this way. Feel free to do the same with your own, or any books you love, in the comments. Links welcome. No bashing of other authors or books, though. Not here.

historical novels of Ailish Sinclair
  • TENDU: disturbing.
  • CABRIOLE: perceptive.
  • FOUETTÉ: this one is a bit difficult; I’ll go with classic.

Wishing you all a great 2024 with many marvellous moments!

My About Page

Ailish's feet

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The Dark of the Castle

the dark of the castle
The dark of the castle: photo taken in Corgarff Castle

The dark of the castle. That’s where we begin. In Cabriole. Which is out today.

Cabriole by Ailish Sinclair
Black coffee and dark chocolate

It’s the second title in the series, and also the notorious one.

The main character, autistic dancer Amalphia, won’t tell you that things are a bit dark in her world. She’s rather an unreliable narrator at the start of the book. But the story soon moves. In fact, it travels around quite a bit.

the dark of the castle: out the door we go!
Out the door we go! Photo taken at Fyvie Castle

From the blurb

After a traumatic year at the castle, Amalphia Treadwell travels back to London to start her professional life, putting dark and difficult things firmly behind her. Or so she believes… See full blurb here

London

I took the next photo the last time I walked through Chinatown in London. Cakes like this don’t actually feature in the novel, but I think they express lightness and fun. There is plenty of that in the tale too.

cakes in  a shop window Chinatown, London.
Cakes in Chinatown

Excerpt

Justin and Amalphia meet in Chinatown at one point. Quote slightly edited to avoid a spoiler:

“Phi, keep going,” urged Justin. “You can’t say something like that and go quiet.”

Between large mouthfuls of food, I detailed the time in New York, the following week… and the present: the horrible, sticky, itchy present.

“I’m a bit shocked,” he admitted. “It’s a lot to take in.”

There’s a few places like this in the book:

London Coliseum
The London Coliseum

And this question is explored:

Cabriole by Ailish Sincalir, starting in the dark of the castle

So, there we are. A Dancer’s Journey. It’s in paperback, Kindle and on Kindle Unlimited. Two outOne to go (December 22nd)

Series on Amazon

Series on Goodreads

From emmalolly13 on TikTok: “This series has a special place in my heart… I feel so blessed to continue reading Amalphia’s story… Her journey with love has been rough… this is such a soul-touching series.

See the Wee Writing Lassie’s new blog series about my favourite dancers here

A Dancer's Jpurney by Ailish Sinclair

There’s more about these stories in the posts below:

Diabolical reading

About Page

ballet feet of Ailish Sinclair

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Newsletter, Updates and ARCs

Go here to sign up for occasional emails that always include exclusive photos and news of my writing and life. They’re a bit more intimate than the blog. If you would like to hear about new books and special offers, you can follow my Amazon author page.

Bookish people can apply for Advance Reader Copies of future books here.

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Sunrise over Tiger Hill

Sunrise over Tiger Hill at Fraserburgh beach

Tiger Hill

Tiger Hill is the largest sand dune at Fraserburgh beach. There are different theories as to how it got its name. One is that it looks a little like a crouched tiger. The other involves actual tigers. It’s said that four fighting tigers were used to ward off Viking invaders in the past, and that the animals were then buried where the dune is now.

Whatever the truth, Tiger Hill is beautiful.

Tiger Hill and the tide

Sunrise

Yesterday’s sunrise was beautiful too. It lit up the town.

Fraserburgh lit up by the sunrise, view from by Tiger Hill

I loved the pinks and blues of the sky.

sunrise over Fraserburgh beach near Tiger Hill

TENDU Aesthetic

The Wee Writing Lassie made this TikTik for TENDU, capturing many elements of the story:

@the_wee_writing_lassie

Check out my new post “The 8 1/2 Overly Pretentious Questions for Ailish Sinclair: The Second Question” weewritinglassie.home.blog/2023/10/21/the… #WritingCommmunity #authorlife #ballet #dancer

♬ Set Fire to the Rain – Adele

An Autistic Dancer, a Byronic Hero and an Obsessive Scientist

Read my series A Dancer’s Journey. There’s ballet. There’s lots of naughtiness. And there’s peril!

Tendu by Ailish Sinclair

Enjoy a kiss on the London tube in the first book, TENDU. Romp up and down the castle stairs. Dance in a stone circle. Attend a Ceilidh in the great hall. Have your brain studied in the dungeon. All fun, I assure you. Well, not quite all…

Series on Amazon UK

Series on Amazon worldwide

Page with blurbs and quotes

There’s more about these stories in the posts below:

Diabolical reading

Chosen Sisters, Romans and Romance

sisters collage

Set in 1st century Scotland, SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD includes the battle of Mons Graupius between the Romans and the Caledonian tribes. The book features a neurodivergent main character and some rather complicated romance.

See the press release here

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

“Ethereal and spellbinding….” Historical Novel Society

Read the article Roman Aberdeenshire features in author’s new book from Grampian Online.

ballet feet of Ailish Sinclair

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Strichen Lake in Aberdeenshire

Strichen Lake

Today we have beautiful Strichen lake for my wee road to winter journey or blog series as it has become. And yes, it is called a lake, not a loch, which is a little unusual for up here.

Reflections in Strichen Lake

Reflections on the lake.

Swans on Strichen Lake

The swans make it a little balletic. For me, anyway.

The Strichen Community Park Facebook Page always has lots of seasonal photos and news about the park and lake.

Tendu is out, and Cabriole is almost here (November 24th)!

The first two titles of A Dancer's Journey

And the third title, Fouetté, releases in December. Phew! These aren’t just the naughtiest books I’ve ever written, they’re the longest, being about 50% longer than my historical titles.

I’m trying to keep up with the reviews that keep popping up in unexpected places. Mick_the_knife had this to say on Threads: “My Kindle is fully charged and waiting to welcome Cabriole with open arms. Tendu was a romp and a roller coaster and it possibly contributed to my sleep deprivation for a couple of weeks!”

A Dancer's Journey by Ailish Sinclair

They’re in paperback too. Nice big chunks of books.

Series page here on the site

On Amazon

Series on Goodreads

TENDU: When dance student Amalphia Treadwell embarks on a secret relationship with her charismatic new teacher, she has no idea of the danger that lurks in his school in Scotland…

And then on into CABRIOLE: After a traumatic year at the castle, Amalphia Treadwell travels back to London to start her professional life, putting dark and difficult things firmly behind her. Or so she believes…

Cabriole by Ailish Sincalir
Cabriole: Dancing in the City

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dancer
And that’s a tendu…

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The Road to Winter

road to winter

We’re firmly on that road to winter now. There’s been no frost or snow, but it’s coming.

I went out. Briefly. I took some pictures. Quickly. My current illness/medication situation is still preventing sleep and making me a bit hyperactive, and I thought I might attempt some daily blogging this week. So, there will be some seasonal Scottish photos being shared over the next few days.

First Review of Cabriole

Cabriole by Ailish Sinclair

Cabriole, the second book in the Dancer’s Journey series, is out now. This is the notorious one, the one that a publisher wanted me to change. To be fair, they did assure me that it wasn’t because they were bigoted or prudish, but because it had to have set tropes to fit their romance line. But still, I have wondered how people would react to this more unusual story.

From emmalolly13 on TikTok: “This series has a special place in my heart… I feel so blessed to continue reading Amalphia’s story… Her journey with love has been rough… this is such a soul-touching series.

Series page here on the site

Series page on Amazon

the road to winter through autumnal trees

See you a little further down the road to winter soon!

Newsletter, Updates and ARCs

Go here to sign up for occasional emails that always include exclusive photos and news of my writing and life. They’re a bit more intimate than the blog. If you would like to hear about new books and special offers, you can follow my Amazon author page.

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Ailish in the stones

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Ballet Terms and Crashing Waves

crashing waves and ballet terms

Below is a post from this time last year when I was wrestling with those tricksy ballet terms. TENDU is finally out, the release of the more notorious title draws near, and I’m busy with the next series. So, despite autoimmunity being flared, I’m happy.

Cabriole by Ailish Sinclair, ballet terms
Notoriety included… out November 24th

Writing Ballet Terms: October 2022

I took a little walk on St Combs beach. It was beautiful and blustery and entirely free from ballet terms. I needed to get away from them for a bit. There’s too many in TENDU, and in the current edit, I am removing, changing or explaining them so as not to confuse the reader. It’s not the most fun. It feels a little like dumbing down, though I know it’s not really. I just have to be less technically specific, and more generally descriptive. I’d much rather be working on all the relationship nuances, but of course, I am doing that too.

The Beach

St Combs beach, crashing waves and ballet terms

It was great to just stand and stare across the ocean and breathe in all that fresh sea air.

blue skies and ballet terms

I made a little TikTok of the sea too, if you would like to hear the waves and see the movement.

Ballet Terms

So goodbye port de bras and grand jeté. Arabesque penchée, I have tried to save (describe) you:

We worked on arabesque penchée. Standing on one leg, the other high behind, fingertips almost touching the floor, the world seemed to stand still around me in a perfect moment of balance and extension.

But back to the beach. Away from the ballet terms. And breathe.

waves and ballet terms

More Posts with Dance Content

red leotard #ballet

TENDU: Dancing in the Castle

Tendu by Ailish Sinclair

Scotland’s all misty lochs and magical forests and perfect boyfriends, right?

When dance student Amalphia Treadwell embarks on a secret relationship with her charismatic new teacher, she has no idea of the danger that lurks in his school in Scotland…

Dark, witty, steamy and fun, Tendu is a compelling and seductive story of love, dance and obsession.

Amazon UK

Amazon worldwide

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Keep up to date with all my news by signing up to the mailing list. It’s a more intimate space than the blog and always contains some exclusive photos. If you would like to hear about new books and offers, you can follow my Amazon author page.

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Ailish Sinclair romps in the loch

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A Spooky and Serendipitous Week

spooky ballet picture and pumpkins

It always feels a little spooky at this time of year. The shops are full of monsters and items that have been ‘Halloweenified.’ The clocks go back an hour here in the UK, making the nights instantly much darker. I feel a little monstrous again, but I’m boring myself with that, so I won’t detail it here.

An Alternative Halloween Article

spooky article on witch burnings

Should we really have fun at Halloween when the north-east led the great execution of witches?

Excellent piece from @NeilDrysdale. I cite the case of Bessie Thom in the article, a woman who features in THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR, as an example of what happened to one of the more than 3,000 victims of the witch trials.

“Bessie, quite possibly, went into the North Sea before being committed to the flames during a very public execution.”

Less Spooky, More Serendipitous

ballet dancers: spooky

The Wee Writing Lassie asked me this question on her blog last week (about TENDU): Amalphia’s story takes place in the beautiful and cutthroat world of professional ballet – what inspired the decision to set her story in that particular backdrop?

My answer: When I was first considering writing a contemporary romance, I was unsure exactly where to place it. Inspiration struck while I was lying in the bath contemplating the issue. I saw a line of dancers in my mind. They were at the barre performing ronde de jambe, a circular leg exercise, and I knew the ballet world would be the setting for the story. My own dance training and career provided many of the details, and everything grew from there.

The serendipity: the picture above is almost identical to the image that appeared in my mind thirteen years ago. It arrived in my house, totally unexpectedly, in beautiful wall-mounted form, the day before TENDU released. Some lovely people, who I don’t even know that well, thought I might like it. I can see it from my desk now. And it’s a wonderful reminder that, even though bad or spooky things happen in this world, magic happens too.

The Books of this Post

The Mermaid and the Bear by Ailish Sinclair

Set in a fictional castle in Aberdeenshire, Ailish Sinclair’s debut novel, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR, blends an often overlooked period of history, the Scottish witchcraft accusations, in particular the 1597 Aberdeen witchcraft panic, with a love story.

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

Scotland’s all misty lochs and magical forests and perfect boyfriends, right?

When dance student Amalphia Treadwell embarks on a secret relationship with her charismatic new teacher, she has no idea of the danger that lurks in his school in Scotland…

Dark, witty, sexy and fun, Tendu is a compelling and seductive story of love, dance and obsession.

“I fell in love with the book from the first page, and the love affair continued to the end.” Review from Lena on Goodreads.

Amazon UK

Amazon worldwide

Newsletter

Keep up to date with all my news by signing up to the mailing list. It’s a more intimate space than the blog and always contains some exclusive photos. If you would like to hear about new books and offers, you can follow my Amazon author page.

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Ailish Sinclair goes into the woods

My About Page

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London, Baby! Ballet, Food, Quirky Streets

Trafalgar Square, Big Ben, Lion, London

My daughter and I took a little trip to London, baby! (originally posted 2014). It was a heady mix of excitement, fun, sore feet, poignant memories, ballet and food. This post is a veritable photo bomb, so continue reading only if you possess extreme picture viewing fortitude.

Covent Garden in London, baby!

Above is the bridge that joins the Royal Ballet School to the Opera House. Below is bronze of a little dancer opposite the Opera House.

the bridge between the royal ballet school and opera house.
little dancer beside the Opera House in Covent Garden, London, England

We stayed in Covent Garden. We saw Bill Nighy in the street in Covent Garden. He frowned at us. We like Covent Garden.

Cake in the apple market, and the statue above, feature in my novel, TENDU:

excerpt from Tendu by Ailish Sinclair

Neal’s Yard

Neal's Yard, London

The Tube

Covent Garden tube station, London. Ailish Sinclair | Author

The Moomin Shop

the moomin shop, London. Ailish Sinclair | Author

Quirky Streets

Brydges Place is the narrowest alleyway in London, measuring just 15 inches across where it comes out beside The Coliseum theatre.

Brydges Place, the narrowest street in London. Ailish Sinclair | Author

This one had fun shops:

Cucumber Alley, London. Ailish Sinclair | Author

Self-indulgent memory alert

The Freed shop was one of the last places I visited before leaving London many years ago. It was to buy a pair of shoes to teach in rather than to dance in, after my body had crumbled… A much happier, sunnier day is shown below, for us if not the staff; there was an angry man in there trying to buy many pairs of shoes in sizes they didn’t have. It was all very dramatic.

Freed of London, dancewear shop. UK. Ailish Sinclair | Author

Ballet Shoes

Many, many Bloch ballet shoes in a window. London. Ailish Sinclair | Author

Trafalgar Square

I don’t get the blue cock (that is what it’s called) in Trafalgar Square. I’ve read the various excuses explanations for it and they don’t make sense. It’s like a blue joke in an otherwise dignified play… but it is photogenic, so my dislike is not total:

blue cockrel in Trafalgar Square, London. Ailish Sinclair | Author

But I prefer the mermaids:

mermaids in the fountain, Trafalgar Square. Ailish Sinclair | Author

Theatre

We saw the Kings of the Dance at The Coliseum. They were phenomenal, but of course, no photos, other than this pre-show one:

The Coliseum theatre, London

The bar sold chocolate. Just thought I would mention because that impressed me. Right, high heeled boots are abandoned in favour of Bloch dance trainers (an emergency purchase) and on we go.

Shakespeare in Leicester Square. Prime London, Baby!

Shakespeare in Leicester Square, London. Ailish Sinclair | Author

 M&M store

M&M store, London. Ailish Sinclair | Author

Piccadilly Circus

Big red bus in Piccadilly Circus, London. Ailish Sinclair | Author

 Chinatown

Chinatown, London

Year of the Horse

Year of the horse statue, Chinatown, London. Ailish Sinclair | Author

The Rudest Restaurant in London (and one of the best and cheapest)

Wong Kei, formerly the ‘rudest restaurant in London’ (still quite curt and bossy to be honest), and a haunt of my youth due to the excellent and cheap food:

Wong Kei, London

The jasmine tea is free and unlimited, just leave the lid of your pot open and it will be replaced.

jasmine tea at Wong Kei. Ailish Sinclair | Author

British Museum

British Museum ceiling, London. Ailish Sinclair | Author

This iron age helmet was found in the River Thames beside Waterloo Bridge. I want one.

horned helmet, British museum, London. baby! Ailish Sinclair | Author

Naked statues in Soho Square

Naked statues in Soho Square. Ailish Sinclair | Author

And finally (I promise)…

The London Eye

My camera really doesn’t do night.

The London Eye. Ailish Sinclair | Author
London Eye at night. UK. Ailish Sinclair | Author

Well done. One and all.

Series: A Dancer’s Journey

A Dancer's Journey series by Ailish Sinclair

My dance background and love of history and spicy stories are what inspired this heady mix of contemporary romance and ballet set in a castle. Readers of my historical fiction will recognise the castle and stone circle that feature in these books.

A Dancer’s Journey is available in paperback, Kindle and on Kindle Unlimited.

Series on Amazon UK

Series on Amazon worldwide

Tendu romps on the tube in London, Baby!

Enjoy a kiss on the London tube in TENDU. Romp up and down the castle stairs! Dance in a stone circle. Attend a Ceilidh in the great hall. Have your brain studied in the dungeon. All fun, I assure you. Well, not quite all…

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feet

See my About Page here

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Go here to sign up for occasional emails that always include some exclusive photos and news of my writing and life. They’re a more intimate space than the blog. If you would rather just hear about new books and offers, you can follow my Amazon author page.

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The Publishing Journey of a Ballet Novel

An aesthetic for TENDU, a ballet novel by Ailish Sinclair

Below is a post that was originally written in February 2022 when I started working on my ballet novel TENDU again. It seems fitting to pull this to the front of the blog now as that novel is finally out!

See a recent review here: “Very atmospheric, I could feel what the characters were feeling, feel their pain, it broke my heart and then healed it and made it sing.”

And the Wee Writing Lassie’s 5th pretentious question for me can be seen here: “They deviated far away from my planned plot in CABRIOLE, the second book in the series. I have to admit that what they did has made the story more unusual and interesting. Writing it any other way, as one publisher tried to get me to do, proved utterly impossible.”

Back to the Ballet Novel in 2022

I am now editing TENDU, having pulled it from the proverbial drawer where it’s been for the last three years.

I’m absolutely LOVING it. I’d forgotten quite how much FUN this book is. It also feels as if I’m connecting to a different version of myself. Me before illness took hold. Me before doctors and medication and pain. It’s doing something to me, current day me. Something good. The book is funny and witty and SO, SO naughty. I am slightly concerned that no one will be able to look me in the face again after reading it. But, hey-ho, life’s too short to worry about things like that, and I intend releasing this novel and the rest of the series in the near future.

It’s had a tumultuous publishing journey, though. And I’m sharing that today.

pointe shoes, a ballet novel, TENDU, by Ailish Sinclair
Lovely Porselli Pointe Shoes

Publishers

I sent TENDU out into the world of publishers and quite a large one offered on it quickly. However, they wanted me to change something fundamental about the plot of the series (three titles) as a whole. And I couldn’t. Or, more correctly, I wouldn’t. I am always willing to make changes that will improve a book, but this was just to make it fit the guidelines of a particular romance line. It would have become formulaic. So, much to that publisher’s astonishment, I turned them down.

Note: You can find out what that notorious plot point was in CABRIOLE, out now.

Time went by.

MERMAID got accepted by a British publisher (not to be confused with the ones I’m writing about here. GWL are very organised), and then along came an offer from a small American press for TENDU. It came with amazingly generous royalties, and no big requested changes, and I accepted it.

And more time went by.

After 18 months (the time, according to the contract, by which the book should have been published) I emailed the publisher and asked when things might get going. There was no reply.

Writers Group

Into the writers group I went. This was an amazing resource. All the writers from that publisher, chatting together and, as it turned out, sharing the same tales of woe. Through the group I learned that the woman who owned the publishing house had become too ill to continue working, and she had sold the company. I had huge empathy for that. The new owner had a large backlog of books waiting to be published, and it was all taking a very long time. The slowness of publication didn’t really bother me. I was rather busy being ill, after all.

But then the stories began to change. Already published writers were not receiving royalties or statements. Cheques were bouncing. So, three years after signing the contract, I asked for my rights back. And I got them. Very politely. Very apologetically. So there are no hard feelings, and I’m not going to name the publisher. They are still going though…

ballet novel, TENDU, by Ailish Sinclair

And that’s where I am.

SISTERS is back with the editor. I’m working on a press release for it and delving deeply into TENDU. I’m loving being in the castle again, yes the same one from the other books. It’s a dance school in the modern day. I love the characters. I love the stone circle and the dancing and the chocolate and the London bits and the romance. And I love the story of this ballet novel, dark as it sometimes is.

And it all feels good.

A Dancer's Journey series by Ailish Sinclair

A Dancer’s Journey

Series on Amazon UK

Series on Amazon worldwide

Series on Goodreads

Page with blurbs and quotes

Diabolical reading

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Keep up to date with all my news by signing up to the mailing list. It’s a more intimate space than the blog and always contains some exclusive photos. If you would like to hear about new books and offers, you can follow my Amazon author page.

Ailish Sinclair stares out to sea

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